Suggestions for recruiters

For recruitment of team members to help create visual novels and story-based games, and for people who want to offer their services to create the same.
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ffs_jay
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Suggestions for recruiters

#1 Post by ffs_jay » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:21 am

First off, I'd just like to say that I don't want to seem like I'm mini-modding. I just keep seeing the same mistakes posted in the recruitment section, and it'd probably be helpful to everyone to offer some guidelines when posting there. It could save a few zero-reply recruitment topics from sinking without trace if only people were a little more realistic.

Anyway, a few things that come to mind, from a freelance artist and Ren'Py dabbler's perspective...

1) Don't recruit on your first post, at least stop by and say hi in the welcome section or something. It seems like really bad form.

2) Don't ask for or expect portfolios/experience if you don't have anything relevant to show for yourself. Be realistic with your team goals. Unless you're paying the bills, 'designer' isn't a team position, at least not by itself. Carry your weight, be it coding, writing, whatever you've got.

3) People probably won't throw themselves at you for a good concept if you haven't done anything before. Show you can flesh it out. Better yet, have a prototype. It's not important that you use placeholder stickman art or you made it in Twine, the important thing is to show you can work a project. Show what you can bring to the table, basically. Also, don't be afraid to show at least some of your script if you're a writer. Don't expect people to come to you if you won't meet them halfway.

4) Don't expect 'credit' to be enough of a reward if you're expecting semi-pros, experienced hobbyists or anything beyond people just starting out. Unless you can meet the targets in (2) and (3), in which case people may well make an exception.

Most of these can be excepted if you're paying for work, of course.

Anyway, rant over. Apologies if it seems a little presumptuous, I've just seen so much of this on so many forums, and thought I'd try and offer a few thoughts to help people get their teams together. If anyone has anything else to add or would just like to tell me how wrong I am, go for it :)
Last edited by ffs_jay on Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#2 Post by Anna » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:47 am

5) Tell us something about your project and what you expect from people. Artists may not want to draw certain things or genres for example, and it can create interest.

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#3 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:02 pm

I really approve of this post. As an artist myself, and someone that has worked on professional studio projects before and student projects alike, this stuff has also been bothering me when I see it. I wanted to flesh out a few points and hopefully help recruiters not shoot themselves in the foot.
ffs_jay wrote: 1) Don't recruit on your first post, at least stop by and say hi in the welcome section or something. It seems like really bad form.
This is important. Otherwise it looks like you are shopping for meat. It makes almost everything you do in the recruiting post seem cold and impersonal.
ffs_jay wrote: 2) Don't ask for or expect portfolios/experience if you don't have anything relevant to show for yourself. Be realistic with your team goals. Unless you're paying the bills, 'designer' isn't a team position, at least not by itself. Carry your weight, be it coding, writing, whatever you've got.

Calling Yourself a "Designer" or "Producer"

It looks HORRIBLE when you are recruiting an artist, a programmer, and a writer all at the same time and calling yourself a designer or producer or director. I know I automatically think - well what the hell are they doing? It makes it look like you are leeching off others and giving nothing back in return. If you are PAYING everyone, fine. You can legitimately claim to being a producer, because at least the project wouldn't happen without your funding. But requesting free or volunteer help to make something where all you contribute is the idea? That's bad form - I'll tell you what they say in the game and film industry when it comes to "ideas". "Ideas are like [a certain part of the anatomy], everyone has one."

And unless you can show me previous work, other completed projects, your own experience and portfolio? "Designer" is just a title you gave yourself, like you just stenciled it on your door and are claiming authority.

Be Realistic with Team Goals
This is one of those red flags that people look for. If you are looking for free help and your project is massive? It means you likely don't have the experience or knowledge to succeed. If you are talking about ambitious features that even well-funded professional studios with teams in-house haven't been able to pull off in a commercial release? Again, it points to a fundamental lack of experience and knowledge. It points to failure on the horizon and no one wants to board a ship they know will sink.

I understand wanting to be ambitious. It is human nature and dreams run unchecked. But you've GOT to walk before you can run. If you've put out several successful small games, people will trust you on the bigger projects. Disney didn't start with full length animated films, and Square and Enix didn't start with full-size RPGs. Even Nintendo started by making playing cards before it moved to simple arcade games.
ffs_jay wrote: 3) People probably won't throw themselves at you for a good concept if you haven't done anything before. Show you can flesh it out. Better yet, have a prototype. It's not important that you use placeholder stickman art or you made it in Twine, the important thing is to show you can work a project. Show what you can bring to the table, basically. Also, don't be afraid to show at least some of your script if you're a writer. Don't expect people to come to you if you won't meet them halfway.
This. Show what YOU bring to the table. What have YOU done to assure this project's success before you've even thought of bringing others on board? Show that you are so heavily invested in this project personally that you have done EVERYTHING possible without outside help. Otherwise you are just a glorified middleman.
ffs_jay wrote: 4) Don't expect 'credit' to be enough of a reward if you're expecting semi-pros, experienced hobbyists or anything beyond people just starting out. Unless you can meet the targets in (2) and (3), in which case people may well make an exception.
Offering just "credit" is kind of insulting to anyone experienced. Are you Paramount Pictures? Sony? SquareEnix? Then a "credit" on your game isn't going to do much for me, is it? If you have no previously released projects or games to your name, a credit on your team means little of nothing. This is NOT meant to be insulting, and you obviously can't do much to help this point if you are just starting out.

However, I bring it up because so many recruiters act as if offering you credit is this grand magnanimous gesture that will really help you out. It won't. And it doesn't help your case that so many people and businesses have used the "you'll get credit" line to screw generations of artists out of hard work for free. This results in a strange dichotomy where an artist can be famous and starving. Better to be anonymous and well-paid.

And who DOESN'T give credit? It is expected. So give credit, just don't act like the people you're recruiting should be thanking you for the privilege.
ffs_jay wrote: Most of these can be excepted if you're paying for work, of course.
Yes, if you are paying fair rates for work, you're fine. Most of these suggestions as for recruiters looking for free volunteers.

These are things to look out for that make some recruiting posts come across as inadvertently insulting.

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#4 Post by redeyesblackpanda » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:20 pm

When you're recruiting people and you call yourself a writer for the project, writing "i need help plz k? my project is verry cool I looking fer peepol!" is not going to make you look good. :lol:
If you don't take the time to write as properly as you can recruiting, you're showing that you won't take the time needed to successfully execute a project. Being unfamiliar with a language is understandable, but being lazy is not.
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#5 Post by ffs_jay » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:59 pm

Anna wrote:5) Tell us something about your project and what you expect from people. Artists may not want to draw certain things or genres for example, and it can create interest.
Absolutely. A lot of people seem scared that their scripts or concepts are going to get stolen, but that just doesn't happen, in my experience. Developers have enough of their own unfinished ideas lying around to worry about adding another one to the stack. And don't worry about 'spoiling' the story, we're your peers, not your audience.

Remember you're just the latest in a long line of potential recruiters. Anyone who's been around creative forums for more than a little while will have seen more recruitment posts than they can possibly remember. Do everything you can to stand out.

@LateWhiteRabbit: Very nicely put, not much to add other than saying I agree 100% with everything you said there.

@redeyesblackpanda: I'd love to say that was common sense, but that still happens far too often. It's good that they're so enthusiastic, but they need to show us why we should be.

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#6 Post by fleet » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:46 pm

If you're asking for art, be as specific as possible on the quantity you want, for example
"I need four sprites, with six expressions per sprite"
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#7 Post by PyTom » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:10 pm

Stickied and moved to the Recruitment forum.

I'll also add that it might make sense for a new recruiter to post on the Ideas forum to create some enthusiasm for your project before posting in Recruitment. If you're not finding interest in your ideas in Ideas, you might want to deal without before trying to recruit people.
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#8 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:10 pm

I second everything in this thread. I know it's mostly been artists so far, and I'm going to add to it, but it would be good to see some other perspectives too :)

- You don't NEED an artist, you WANT an artist. Anyone who says they NEED an artist to start scripting and programming drives me up the wall because it's a lie. Ren'Py will work perfectly fine without pictures and there are free resources floating around. I would be much more inclined to join someone who has worked off their own steam to get something up and running than someone who says they can't start until they have someone drawing. Art is always just an aesthetics thing. You can work just fine without it in the beginning.

- I second the 'Show Your Work' stance. Show whatever it is you are good at, why you would make a good partner and how you can be committed to a project. The main reason I was so eager to cling onto Camille like a drowning man clutches driftwood after I finished up being commissioned is because I saw what she was capable of with Machina Jewel. I saw her write and program, I saw her getting things DONE.

- Don't limit yourself to this forum. Sure, this is the place where people into VNs gather, but I was originally recruited from DA. The pool of artists here is also quite small and most people are already working on projects. You need to be proactive in your search instead of waiting for people to always come to you. The worst someone can say to you is no, and then you move on. That said, if you are recruiting from outside the VN spectrum:
1) Look for people you have done long term projects. Stuff like comics, 365 day challenges, that type of thing. VNs are massive amounts of long term work, you want to look for people who can do that type of thing, not just single pictures whenever they feel like it.
2) Look for people you do similar things to what you want to do. Artists work best when they are very interested and invested.
3) Explain the work load to them in realistic terms. Don't say "Oh, it's just a few sprites and backgrounds" when you know it isn't. Plan and do your research so you UNDERSTAND what it is that you are asking for. It's better the artist turns you down than for them to be a couple months in and find they can't do it.

- I also second the 'Your Idea Has No Value' stance. It might sound mean, but ideas are literally worthless. Everyone has ideas, and lots of GOOD ideas too. What changes an idea into something of value is work. The planning, the writing, the game mechanic, these all draw on the idea and together they are worth something. Without them, your idea is just one of many.

- Pitch it (seconded). Seriously, make it seem interesting. So many people get all secretive, but the truth is if you don't catch my attention in that first post, you aren't going to get it. There are so many posts here and the internet is chock full of stuff that is interesting. If you don't make the effort to put your project in the best light than you are probably wasting your time posting.

- Find people who suit you. People seem really eager to just jump on the first person that walks by, but that is the wrong way to do it. You need to look at their work and personality and see if you would go well together. Chat with them about the project and their own ideas before signing them up. You are going to be working together for a long time so take some time to find out about them first.

- You. Can. Not. Be. In. Control. As much as you would like to be in total control of your baby, when you ask others to get involved you relinquish that control. It's one of the reasons you should look for the right people, that way you will all be on the right page. When you ask an artist to redraw something, you better have a very good reason. Art takes a lot of effort and when you are asking someone to redraw something to fit your ideas, you are kind of trampling all over their creativity and their contribution. It won't last long. Artists are not a tool to get your ideas done. Unless you are paying or you are picking up that pencil yourself you need to have realistic expectations of them and allow them to have some freedom. Caging them in will make an artist leave very quickly, trust me.

As a total side note, Backgrounds. Backgrounds are: Hard, time consuming, boring. That is why you will always have trouble finding an artist for them and them alone. It's best to have plans in place in the likely case you don't find someone, like using photos. I've had a combined experience with this one and the above where I was originally recruited to do characters and I did all the concept sketches for them. He then got another artist who got to do the characters and I was shuffled off to do backgrounds. I was inexperienced with them and while I was doing my best, I still ended up drawing the same background 4 times and all the other backgrounds I did required changes. I walked away from that project after 2 months or so and it was never completed. I am happy that it lead me to work with VNs and it did teach me a lot about working on a project, but yeah.

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters?

#9 Post by Sapphi » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:50 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote: It looks HORRIBLE when you are recruiting an artist, a programmer, and a writer all at the same time and calling yourself a designer or producer or director.
Thank you. This is one of my big pet peeves although I rarely mention it because I don't want to be mean :?

Recruiters, if you want to win friends and influence people, please do not inflate your importance and talk down to the people you are trying to recruit. Just give it to us straight, tell us what your project is about and what you're looking for, without trying to sound fancy or "corporate." It looks ridiculous and we're all laughing at you from behind our computer screens. If you treat me impersonally and withhold information from me for the sake of seeming more professional, I am going to assume you will find it easier to give me trouble because you are hiding behind a mask. No masks, please... being honest with your collaborators is a far better plan.
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#10 Post by fleet » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:28 pm

When asking for Beta testers or proof readers, follow Auro-Cyanide's advice.

"Pitch it (seconded). Seriously, make it seem interesting. So many people get all secretive, but the truth is if you don't catch my attention in that first post, you aren't going to get it. There are so many posts here and the internet is chock full of stuff that is interesting. If you don't make the effort to put your project in the best light than you are probably wasting your time posting."
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#11 Post by Lishy » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:41 pm

Thank you. I followed the tips, but I think I made my thread TOO big now! :(

(Plus finding a doctor/nurse/medical graduate to recruit for a "fact-checking" position is difficult...)
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#12 Post by awesomeautumn » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:32 pm

Thank you thank you thank you!
These are very helpful, and pretty essential to anyone who needs to recruit in the future (like me xD). Especially #3!

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#13 Post by komicer » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:36 pm

Image
From: http://creativeinspiration.tumblr.com/p ... d-it-hurts

This very much applies to illustrators too.
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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#14 Post by KomiTsuku » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:58 pm

komicer wrote: From: http://creativeinspiration.tumblr.com/p ... d-it-hurts

This very much applies to illustrators too.
Someone actually made a picture of one of my favorite quotes! XD

As someone who has commissions totalling in the hundreds, I do have a couple highlights to add.

1. Selling what you want to do is important, but so is brevity. Nobody is going to read a short novel of a job offer. Make sure you push your key points, but do not feel you need to give every bloody detail. On the flip side of the coin, one or two lines is pretty weak.

2. I'd recommend getting to know the people you want to help you. Knowing who you are going to work with will save you a headache down the road.

3. Give them a reason to want to work with you. For me, that is a lump sum of money. Should you not have such means, show some of your work. Make them see that not only is working with you the greatest idea ever, but YOU ARE GOING TO ACTUALLY FINISH YOUR WORK. That brings me to my next point.

4. FINISH 50% OF THE SCRIPT FIRST! Try to get some of the sketches and whatnot out of the way early, but you shouldn't be commissioning CGs and some of your heavier art assets until you are at least 50% through the script. Trust me, you do not know what you might need until that point.

5. This isn't the only place to try and recruit. 95% of the people I recruit come from DeviantArt. This is a really small pool to fish from. It also brings more people into the community. It warms my heart when I start to see a lot of folks I have worked with come to the forum.

6. I also laugh at folks who sit behind fancy titles. Sure, this is coming from Chief Editor of IDHAS Studios, but I'm a self-important, megalomaniac tyrant. I sit on those laurels because they amuse me. Being like me in this case is bad, m'kay?

7. Specifics! Be detailed in what you need. If your ignored 1, pay attention to this subnote. Detail what you need from the start of everything, don't make them ask. However..."

8. Give the artist a fair amount of control. This is something I've always been very big into. I'm only one man with a pretty simple mind. I don't see every potential venue, which means I could have missed out on a helluva idea. By giving up some of that control, I give the artists to go in ways that I could have never seen.

9.
Offering just "credit" is kind of insulting to anyone experienced. Are you Paramount Pictures? Sony? SquareEnix? Then a "credit" on your game isn't going to do much for me, is it? If you have no previously released projects or games to your name, a credit on your team means little of nothing.
Yeah. Perfectly said.

10. I will not be the one to tell you not to dream for the stars. If you think you can do it, go for it! I'll be behind you the whole way. Why? Because it amuses me seeing folks like me try something big and crash. It's harder than it looks. If you take the time, outline and plan everything you need, AND THEN FOLLOW THROUGH TO THE LETTERS YOU SPECIFIED there is no reason you can't make the next epic game. The second you don't take an appropriately epic time planning your route, you are going to flame out and crash.

11. Sometimes you crash and burn anyway. Get up, brush yourself off, and start planning for the next fight.

There's more, but these steps should get you on your way. The rest, I'm afraid, comes from experience.

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Re: Suggestions for recruiters

#15 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:08 pm

komicer wrote:Image
From: http://creativeinspiration.tumblr.com/p ... d-it-hurts

This very much applies to illustrators too.
Excellent. I've never seen it in venn diagram form, but this is something that has been said in the game development and entertainment industries for a long time. And it is absolutely true.

KomiTsuku gives good advice, but I disagree with one small detail, which I'll point out below - the lump sum of money.

The inclusion of cost gives me cause to bring up some tips for recruiters that ARE paying. Again these points are all from an artist's perspective:

1) Profit Sharing, Interest Payments, or Royalties

This is typically an excuse to get art for free on the front end, so you can get good art you'd normally have to pay for without reaching for your wallet. It is also BAD. At best it is naive, at worst it is dishonest. Most indie projects, be they VNs or something else don't make a lot of profit. Fifty percent of nothing is nothing. And too many times I see recruiters offering this system and not even having contracts drawn up. Are the artists supposed to trust your altruism on handling the accounting and cutting the checks?

That brings up the second problem. Logistics. How long are you going to keep up with the profits and royalties from your game? How often do you do the accounting, calculate the profits and send out a check? Every six months? Every year? Did you answer 'forever'? Because for as long as you bring in ANY money in connection with that game or art, you will have to do the math and cut the artist a check. If that all sounds like a pain in the ass for both you and the artist, then congratulations, you've seen why this is a crappy practice.

Third, no professional artist will EVER except this kind of arrangement. It is typically used to lure in young and inexperienced artists who are suckers and think this is the way business is done. It is not. Artist's get paid by the piece of art, on completion of the art. Occasionally depending on the nature of the art, an artist might expect a certain royalty amount on every title or object sold. For example, a graphic artist designing a poster for a campaign with national exposure would expect $4000 dollars on delivery of the finished product and 10% of the price of each poster sold. In the game industry it is more common just to be paid a flat amount for the art done with nothing more expected, however. Which leads into the next point -

2) Ambiguous Work Loads and Lump Sum Payments

Be absolutely clear on exactly what you want done, how much, and what you are willing to pay for each. For instance, say you need 6 sprites and you will pay X amount of dollars for each sprite. Specify the level of detail you want, provide examples, tell how many poses and expressions, and expect a counter offer. Artists are paid per item, not per job. For instance, comic book artists make a certain amount per page turned in. A graphic artist makes so much per logo or poster or package designed. A VN artist should make so much per sprite or background created.

Do NOT offer a lump sum payment with an ambiguous amount of work to be done. No professional or self-respecting artist is going to accept a lump sum payment to do all the art in your game, because that is just an creating an opportunity for them to be exploited as you see fit. You could pay them and give them a light work load, or you could pay them and give them a nightmarish workload. They have no idea or way of knowing, and asking them to "trust you" isn't professional. Many contractors in the past have set up such arrangements to take advantage of artists, and any artist with experience in the field is going to view such an offer as a potential scam.

If you only have a certain budget for a game or art, don't offer that lump sum for all the art. Parcel and assign it out per item. If you need X amount of sprites and have X amount of money, divide one into the other and use that as your offer price for each sprite. This also benefits YOU, as you can see exactly where your money is going. You get a tangible product for a set price you can plan for. If you need to add more sprites you can see exactly how much more money you will need.

This also means you can pay the artist and go your separate ways. No keeping up with royalties, no phone or email tag, just a simple business transaction. Artists appreciate this, and you'll appreciate this when you see how simplified it makes your accounting.

3) Contracts

If money is changing hands, you NEED a contract. After all the details have been worked out between both parties you can draw one up and get it signed and notarized. Most professional artists will have their own contracts - anyone belonging to the Graphics Artists Guild (in America) or a similar organization will have access and examples of how to create these for different jobs. But don't let that scare you - contracts don't have to be complicated and full of lawyer-speak. In the end, what you are looking for is something that lays out the expectations clearly on both sides:

- What is wanted
- When it is wanted
- What is given in exchange
- Any other terms or agreements both sides feel is important

A contract makes everything clear and provides a definitive start and end date for work ordered and expected, and puts the amount of money to be exchanged in writing. If anything goes wrong on either side you'll be glad to have a legal document available to settle arguments. If work isn't delivered or they run off with your money, you are now able to take legal action. Similarly the artist has protection against you saying they didn't turn in everything promised, because that is all laid out in the contract.

A contract also weeds out those who aren't serious or who may "flake" on you. You don't want to deal with "AmbiguousScreenname42". You want to deal with Mr. or Ms. Proper Name. If someone who is doing business with you and accepting money from you won't give you their real name, that is a bad sign. Likewise, you need to provide YOUR real name as the recruiter when you initiate business with them. A contract does all that.

4) Understanding Fair Rates

You need to be familiar with the fair rate of pay for the art you are asking for. Unfortunately a lot of amateur artists don't even know this themselves, but it is a relatively simple formula.

Time Spent on Art x Value of Artist's Time = Price of Art

"Time Spent on Art" varies from artist to artist and depends on the type of art being produced. Obviously backgrounds take longer than sprites, and CGs take longer than backgrounds.

"Value of Artist's Time" is the measure of how good the artist is and the quality of the work. The better the quality the higher this should be. Factor in the minimum wage the artist would expect to make an hour in their country of origin. You MUST pay them at least that much or the artist would be better off spending their time sweeping out a warehouse rather than drawing. You already liked their art or you wouldn't be considering hiring them, so do them the courtesy of offering them enough to keep food on their plate.

Let's try an example: You want to hire Artist Jane to do sprites for you - drawing them, inking them, coloring them. (In professional productions, these are all separate jobs, but most indie projects will roll them into one. This does not affect the money the artist makes, since the time spent scales to match.) Let's say Artist Jane knows it takes her 3 hours a sprite. Let's also say Artist Jane lives in America, where the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

3 Hours X $7.25 an hour = $21.75 a sprite

So Artist Jane should be getting AT LEAST $21.75 per sprite, otherwise she should flip hamburgers and throw away her pencils. Now, that is the baseline price. We also need to factor in how good Artist Jane is. Maybe she went to art school, maybe she has put in years of study to get as good as she is. That is all value that needs to be added to the "Value of Artist's Time" in the equation. After all, if her work is really good it is the result of practice or school, and she needs to make back the lost money she spent getting good - either student loans or lost work opportunities. Now, professional quality sprites seen in the big studio VNs cost between $80-$150 colored. Let's say Artist Jane is good, but she is a little shy of that level of quality. (This is an evalution that the artist and recruiter need to be honest about - normally the artist will do this price analysis and present the cost to the recruiter, but the recruiter can do this analysis on their own to present an initial price to the artist. Both sides can haggle as they see fit.) Artist Jane decides her time isn't worth the $27 dollars an hour or more a professional would charge, but she is still pretty good. She decides her time is worth $20 an hour where art is concerned.

3 Hours X $20 an hour = $60 a sprite

This is the price Artist Jane should charge per sprite she does.

As a recruiter you should be aware of this calculation, even though the artist themselves should be the ones doing it. This lets you know the ballpark figure you should open negotiations with to avoid being insulting or taking advantage. The specific number here aren't set in concrete, and if the art is truly amateur prices can be adjusted to match. Just don't go after professional artists or an artist whose work looks the same quality as official material and insult them by offering them a real low ball figure.


I just thought these additional points needed to be cleared up for when money is involved in recruiting, and DO keep that Venn Diagram above in mind. When you recruit an artist you can pick 2 of those things, but never all of them.

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